Big Cats Relocated to Eastern Cape

Far, far away in another country ... so sad, but with a happy ending for a few.

This is the story of 6 lion and 1 tiger being held under appalling conditions in the Ukraine, in small enclosures, in steel and concrete cages, in snowy and icy weather with access to little nutritional food and medical care, being sold on OLX, etc.

Fortunately, there are a few very committed and dedicated members from the Warriors of Wildlife Ukraine, who through hard work and lots of patience, brought these big cats to lead a better life in South Africa. In partnership with Free the Wild these 7 cats were relocated to Simbonga Game Farm and Sanctuary, approximately 20 minutes’ drive from Jeffreys Bay, where they would be loved and cared for by dedicated personnel with a passion for helping wild animals in need of proper care; people who understand rescue/relocations after having done many themselves and know that there are so many issues involved in getting a project like this done and not just going online and booking a flight as some people may think.

The cats came from two different locations in the Ukraine, 100's of kilometres apart and both nearly 600km from Borispol Airport. The relocation was split in two, with an accompanying vet travelling in the truck with the cats from the south of Ukraine and the other, going into the mountains to collect the other lions and tiger at a ski resort.

Apart from the delays and flight cancellations due to Omicron they also had to face the weather as major obstacle. A lot of snow had fallen and they had to juggle two transport companies and change flight dates to make sure that the cats could get to the airport on time and to ensure they make the flight.

Once loaded onto the trucks, it was a long trip on icy roads to the airport where they arrived the evening before the flight so that the cats can clear vet and customs procedures. They spent the night in the heated customs warehouse, were fed and watered and flew early the next morning.
Upon arrival at OR Tambo all necessary documentation were completed and a 14-hour road trip to the Simbonga Game Farm & Sanctuary were undertaken. In total the cats had to travel crated for approximately 87 hours.

The cats’ arrival on a very hot day (from -14? to 35?) was very traumatic and hard on these animals who were born and bred with concrete, steel, snow and harsh conditions to get used to in the first 2 -3 years of their lives.

Simbonga Game Farm & Sanctuary also provide luxury tented accommodation, hiking & camping in the heart of the Eastern Cape just 40 mins drive from Port Elizabeth and 20 mins from Jeffreys Bay. Accommodation is provided in luxury structured tents that are equipped for self-catering. Each tent is furnished with double and/or single beds and all tents feature braai facilities and en-suite bathrooms.

All wildlife at Simbonga is free roaming throughout the entire game reserve, including the ability for them to walk right up to your accommodation should they choose. Guests can enjoy activities like hiking, mountain biking and swimming on the farm. The game farm offers majestic mountain views and wide-open plains filled with zebra, giraffe, impala, wildebeest, blesbok and various other antelope species.

We wish Simbonga Game Farm & Santuary all the best in their efforts to get these big cats to adapt and settle in an environment as close as possible to where they belong.

Pictures posted with permission of Simbonga Game Farm & Sanctury